Monday, January 24, 2011

"'Get Your Pies for the Great Pie Fight!'"*

Happy (belated) National Pie Day!  When I learned of this (the same way all my other friends did - via NPR), I was furious at not having marked such an important holiday on my calendar with several reminders.
That led to a bit of a scramble.  And not the delicious, eggy kind.
We already had plans to head to Scott's mom's house in the afternoon for a family get together, for which I had volunteered to make a salad.  We had so many greens that we literally did NOT have room in the fridge for them and everything else we already had in there.
There was only one teeny tiny leetle issue.  The outlet in our garage that powered our refrigerator went kaputt, and while Scott managed to run an extension cord to another outlet for the night, he spent all morning going back and forth to the hardware store, trying to get all the necessary items to fix it.  Sadly, it was beyond the capacity at which I was willing to let him risk zapping himself, so we have to call in an electrician.  For the meantime, our temporary fix works, so we didn't have to lose any of the ravioli, stock, or pasties that I had saved.
Of course, while Scott was being Mr. Fix-It, I had to tend to HRH, who was a ball of fire, nearly running up and down the stairs, playing ball, jumping on her trampoline, and generally being full of P&V.  Thus, it wasn't until I was able to put her down for her nap (late, which seems to be her usual anymore) that I could really begin my prep work in the kitchen.
In between stair sessions, I was able to find a recipe for a Shaker lemon pie.  The Shakers were a religious group founded around the time of the Revolutionary War, an off-shoot from the Quakers.  The height of their faith was before the Civil War, and many Shakers (so called because of their practice of shaking when moved by the Holy Spirit), lived in Ohio.
From what I understand, this pie recipe was created after several Shakers made a trip down the Mississippi River from Ohio to New Orleans, where they came across lemons.  Not wanting to waste any of the fruit, they came up with a pie recipe that is not a meringue-like pie but not a custard-like pie, either.  It's kind of a cross of the two, but with a double crust, and the lemons are sliced thinly, as one would apples.
Yes, I totally reused this picture.
But lemons sitting in sugar look
the same as lemons sitting in water.
I didn't want to make a lemon meringue pie (I really didn't feel like tackling meringue in my small window), but I wanted to do SOMETHING, so I thought this was a good plan.
The first step that involves slicing the lemons and having them sit in sugar was easy, and I did that first so that I could meet the minimum time requirement set forth in the recipe that I followed.  Then I made the pate brisee.  I was pretty excited to pull out my new Cuisinart® food processor again, and I was really, really, REALLY pleased with how it turned out.  I mean, I liked this recipe before (I always use it when making fruit pies), but the dough was SO rollable this time, so perhaps my days with the pastry cutter are over (I kind of shudder to think - there is something comforting about such an activity).
Can you believe these are TURNIPS?
How gorgeous are they????
While the lemons were sugaring and the pate briseeing, I threw together the salad.  Everything BUT the green beans (left over from my pickle brine recycling experiment) were from Desert Root Farms.  The star was really the scarlet queen red salad turnip.  This baby came with directions on the label - to serve raw or lightly cooked.  So we followed directions and didn't use them in the latkes the other night, reserving them instead for the salad (they are crunchy and earthy - very nice!).  To that I added dill, and I tossed those three simple items over a mix of spinach, red leaf, and green leaf.
Of course, when one is making a fresh salad, it would NOT be apropos to use a bottled dressing (OK, I am a snob; I admit it).  But come on - you already know I have all the ingredients to make a vinaigrette, right?  Lemons, olive oil, mustard, and more dill with just a wee bit of salt, all emulsified with a good dose of elbow grease.
OK, so back to the pie.  Once we were showered and HRH woke up from her nap, we packed up the car (seriously, it was like packing for a three-day trip, and we were driving thirty minutes away) and headed out.  Once at our destination, I rolled out the pate brisee, whisked up some eggs, added them to the lemon mixture, and popped it in the oven.
While it was cooling, everyone ate dinner, and the dressing was used up and the mustard smeared on burger buns.  I am pleased to note that the mustard DID mellow but stayed nice and scharf, a nice accompaniment to a good ol' cheddar cheeseburger.
The air vents were in the shape
of a "T" for Tay's birthday.
I'm not sure how I felt about the pie, but the family SAID they liked it.  It was tart - but it's supposed to be.  I think I might add just a little more sugar AND let the lemons sit at least overnight to mellow out just a little more.  Also, the custard part of the pie didn't totally set up, but I think that's mostly because we didn't let it cool to its optimal room temperature.  All in all, though, this is a recipe I would not mind tweaking to make my own.
The last thing I did before the weekend ended was to make cinnamon sugar, which was not really much of a feat (mix cinnamon and sugar in cannister - shake vigorously - sprinkle on toast/tortilla/spoon), but I was seething from not being able to obtain my precious vanilla beans to make my extract and sugar ("we regret that we are temporarily out of vanilla beans"), so I felt like I needed to do something with sugar to channel that crushed hope in a more positive manner.

*Clearly, I am on a Mel Brooks kick here - this is a line from Blazing Saddles.  If you can't place the line, you need to watch the movie again.


  1. Have you considered making lemon curd? David Lebowitz had a recipe that specifically stated it wasn't for Meyer lemons (it was at the end of a post that actually discussed how there are no real Meyer lemons anymore- very interesting). I love the stuff and would take it off your hands if you make it! ;)

  2. It's on my list, actually - just haven't gotten there yet... I have high hopes that the marmalade might actually turn out! But no worries - we have nearly an endless supply.... I'll have to bookmark that recipe, though - thanks for the 411!